Updated Jul 24, 2023 - Economy

"Barbie" makes history with $162 million blockbuster weekend debut

Photos: Warner Bros., Universal Pictures

"Barbie" is officially the biggest movie of the year, after bringing in a staggering $162 million in its opening weekend, according to numbers from Comscore.

Why it matters: The film's success proves movies with a strong female lead can pull their weight at the box office, especially amid superhero fatigue.

  • Not only did "Barbie" post the biggest domestic opening ever for a non-superhero film or sequel, but it was also the biggest opening in history for a female director.
  • "It shows how important it is to have people have different points of view sitting in the director's chair," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, referring to "Barbie" director Greta Gerwig. Gerwig previously directed indie films such as "Lady Bird" and "Little Women."

Details: "Barbie" saw the biggest opening day of the year on Friday, bringing in $70.8 million, per Comscore.

  • Strong weekend showings on Saturday and Sunday led it to a $162 million gross open for the weekend.
  • Overall, "Barbie" earned $356.3 million for its opening debut, including international sales, according to numbers from Warner Bros. Discovery, which distributed the film.

Christopher Nolan's biographical thriller "Oppenheimer" came in a distant second, with a still-impressive $82 million domestic weekend haul, per Comscore.

  • The film brought in roughly $180 million in total this weekend, including international sales, which will put it well ahead of industry estimates.

Between the lines: The two combined hits already have made this past weekend one of the most successful domestic box office weekends of all time, per data from Comscore.

  • The North American weekend box office hasn't seen that level of momentum since the debut of “Avengers: Endgame” in 2019.

Yes, but: The "Barbie"-"Oppenheimer" double-header is likely to be the last major weekend opener at the box office for some time.

  • The ongoing Hollywood writers and actors strikes make it unlikely any film in the near term will be able to market itself to the same extent ahead of a film's release.

The big picture: This weekend's movie mania brought some much-needed momentum back to the box office, which is still struggling to return to its pre-pandemic state.

  • Even with the massive ticket sales for "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer", the domestic box office is still down 20% from pre-pandemic levels.
  • "It's so important for the industry, but the headwinds and the uncertainty is looming out there," Dergarabedian said of this weekend's crowds. "Right now, we're on a sugar high, and that's fantastic. But at some point, everyone's going to have to face the implications of these strikes."

What to watch: The "Barbie"-"Oppenheimer" momentum "will be key heading into August" with several wide releases expected, including "Blue Beetle," and "The Equalizer 3," Dergarabedian said.

  • August, he said, "is a land of opportunity for films that might not necessarily plugin perfectly in the heart of the summer movie season."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with the latest details on box office takings.

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